Left to Tell : Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

( 64 )

Overview

Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers ...
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Overview

Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them.It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerged from her bathroom hideout having discovered the meaning of truly unconditional love—a love so strong she was able seek out and forgive her family’s killers.The triumphant story of this remarkable young woman’s journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering, and loss.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1994, Rwandan native Ilibagiza was 22 years old and home from college to spend Easter with her devout Catholic family, when the death of Rwanda's Hutu president sparked a three-month slaughter of nearly one million ethnic Tutsis in the country. She survived by hiding in a Hutu pastor's tiny bathroom with seven other starving women for 91 cramped, terrifying days. This searing firsthand account of Ilibagiza's experience cuts two ways: her description of the evil that was perpetrated, including the brutal murders of her family members, is soul-numbingly devastating, yet the story of her unquenchable faith and connection to God throughout the ordeal uplifts and inspires. Her account of the miracles that protected her is simple and vivid. Her Catholic faith shines through, but the book will speak on a deep level to any person of faith. Ilibagiza's remarkable path to forgiving the perpetrators and releasing her anger is a beacon to others who have suffered injustice. She brings the battlefield between good and evil out of the genocide around her and into her own heart, mind and soul. This book is a precious addition to the literature that tries to make sense of humankind's seemingly bottomless depravity and counterbalancing hope in an all-powerful, loving God. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781458723833
  • Publisher: Createspace
  • Publication date: 9/17/2009
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition

Meet the Author

Immaculée Ilibagiza was born in Rwanda and studied electronic and mechanical engineering at the National University. She lost most of her family during the 1994 genocide. Four years later, she emigrated to the United States and began working at the United Nations in New York City. She is now a full-time public speaker and writer. In 2007 she established the Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which helps support Rwandan orphans.Immaculée holds honorary doctoral degrees from The University of Notre Dame and Saint John’s University, and was awarded The Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace 2007. She is the author, with Steve Erwin, of LEFT TO TELL: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.
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Read an Excerpt

LEFT TO TELL

Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
By Immaculee Ilibagiza Steve Erwin

HAY HOUSE, INC.

Copyright © 2006 Immaculee Ilibagiza
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4019-0896-9


Chapter One

The Eternal Spring

I was born in paradise.

At least, that's how I felt about my homeland while I was growing up.

Rwanda is a tiny country set like a jewel in central Africa. She is so breathtakingly beautiful that it's impossible not to see the hand of God in her lush, rolling hills; mist-shrouded mountains; green valleys; and sparkling lakes. The gentle breezes drifting down from the hills and through the pine and cedar forests are scented with the sweet aroma of lilies and chrysanthemums. And the weather is so pleasant year-round that the German settlers who arrived in the late 1800s christened her "the land of eternal spring."

The forces of evil that would give birth to a holocaust that set my beloved country awash in a sea of blood were hidden from me as a child. As a young girl, all I knew of the world was the lovely landscape surrounding me, the kindness of my neighbors, and the deep love of my parents and brothers. In our home, racism and prejudice were completely unknown. I wasn't aware that people belonged to different tribes or races, and I didn't even hear the terms Tutsi or Hutu until I was in school.

In my village, young children walkedeight miles to and from school along lonely stretches of road, but parents never worried about a child being abducted or harmed in any way. My biggest fear as a youngster was being alone in the dark-other than that, I was an extremely happy little girl in a happy family, living in what I thought was a happy village where people respected and cared for one another.

I was born in the western Rwandan province of Kibuye, in the village of Mataba. Our house was perched on a hilltop overlooking Lake Kivu, which seemed to stretch out forever below us. On clear mornings I could see the mountains on the other side of the lake in the neighboring country of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some of my warmest childhood memories are of clambering down the perilously steep hill between our house and the lake. I'd go swimming with my dad and brothers as the last of the dawn mist was being chased away by the early-morning sun. The water was warm, the air cool against our skin, and the view of our house high above the shore always thrilling. Heading back home was an adventure because the hill was so steep and the dirt beneath our feet was so loose and treacherous. I often slipped and was afraid that I'd tumble all the way down and into the lake. My father always knew when I was frightened, and he'd bundle me in his arms all the way home. He was a big, strong man, and I felt safe and loved wrapped in those powerful arms. It thrilled me to be lifted up so affectionately, especially since Dad was very reserved in an old-fashioned way and rarely showed his emotions or said he loved my brothers and me-although we knew he did.

When we got home from our swim, my beautiful mother would be busy in the kitchen preparing the hot rice-and-bean dish she fed us every day before packing us off to school. Her energy never failed to astonish me: Mom was always the first to rise and last to bed, getting up hours before anyone else to make sure that the house was in order, our clothes were laid out, our books and lessons were ready, and my father's work papers were organized. She made all our clothing herself, cut our hair, and brightened the house with handmade decorations.

The beans she prepared for our breakfast were grown in our family fields, which Mom tended every morning while the rest of us were still sleeping. She checked the crops and would then distribute tools to the day laborers and make sure that our cows and other animals were fed and watered. And then, after finishing the morning chores and getting us off to class, Mom would walk down the road to start her full-time teaching job at the local primary school.

Both of my parents were teachers, and adamant believers that the only defense against poverty and hunger was a good education. Despite being one of the smallest countries in Africa, Rwanda-which is roughly the size of the American state of Maryland-is one of the most densely populated countries on the continent and among the poorest in the world. Mom and Dad were the first high school graduates in their families, and they were determined that their children would go even further than they had in school. Dad led by example, working hard and studying throughout his life. He received many honors and promotions during his career, rising steadily through the ranks from primary teacher to junior high school principal. He was eventually appointed chief administrator for all of the Catholic schools in our district.

In Rwanda, every family member has a different last name. Parents give each child a unique surname at birth, one that reflects the feelings of the mother or father at the moment they first lay eyes on their new baby. In Kinyarwanda, the native language of Rwanda, my name (Ilibagiza) means "shining and beautiful in body and soul." My dad chose my name, which will always remind me how much he loved me from the moment I was born.

My father's name was Leonard Ukulikiyinkindi, and my mother's was Marie Rose Kankindi, but her friends called her Rose. They met at one of my cousin's homes in the summer of 1963 while traveling to a mutual friend's wedding. As they were introduced, Mom gave Dad the once-over, clucking her tongue at his shaggy hair.

"You're going to a wedding with that hair?"

My father shrugged, claiming that he couldn't find a barber. Mom found a pair of scissors, sat him down, and went to work-right then and there. She must have done a good job, because they became inseparable. They married within the year, and Dad never let anyone but Mom cut his hair again.

My parents managed to save a little money by holding down teaching jobs and farming the land my grandfather had given them (they grew and sold beans, bananas, and coffee). Dad designed and built our house, which, while extremely modest by Western standards, was considered quite luxurious in our village. We had a kitchen, a dining area, a living room, our own bedrooms, a guest room, and Dad even had a study. A gated courtyard led to a small annex where day workers stayed, and-thankfully-we had a separate pen for the animals, so the cows didn't sleep in the house with us. Dad put a cistern on the roof to catch rainfall so that we wouldn't have to haul water up from Lake Kivu, and the solar panels he installed provided us with about an hour of electricity on sunny days.

We had two vehicles, which was practically unheard of in our part of Rwanda. We had a yellow cross-country motorcycle that Dad used to visit schools in the remote mountain villages, and we also had a little car that we used on weekends to go to church and visit relatives. Some villagers thought that we were wealthy, which we weren't, and they called my Dad Muzungu, meaning "white man" or "rich person," which to most Rwandans meant the same thing.

No one else in our village had a motorcycle, and Mom always worried that Dad would be waylaid by bandits on a lonely mountain pass. Fretting about her family was a preoccupation with my mother, to the point that whenever any of us was away from home for more than a night, she'd listen to the obituaries announced on the radio every evening.

"Mom, think of all the good things that could happen to us instead of dwelling on what might go wrong," I urged her unsuccessfully.

"Oh, Immaculee, I couldn't bear it if someone knocked on the door with bad news about one of my children or your father. I just pray that I die before any of you do." She prayed incessantly for our health, safety, and well-being.

My parents were devout Roman Catholics and passed on their beliefs to us. Mass was mandatory on Sundays, as were evening prayers with the family at home. I loved praying, going to church, and everything else to do with God. I especially loved the Virgin Mary, believing that she was my second mom, watching out for me from heaven. I didn't know why, but praying made me feel warm and happy. In fact, it made me so happy that when I was ten years old, I snuck away from school one day with my friend Jeanette to pay a visit to Father Clement, a wise, elderly priest who was a good friend of the family and like a grandpa to me.

Jeanette and I hiked through seven miles of fields and forests and waded across a river to reach Father Clement. He greeted us warmly, but was concerned because we arrived at his presbytery exhausted, panting, soaking wet, and more than a little dirty. He looked like a saint, standing over us in his flowing white robe, his arms opened in welcome, a beautiful rosary hanging from his neck. "What is it, girls? How can I help you?" he asked.

"Father, we want to dedicate our lives to God," Jeanette said solemnly.

"That's right, Father," I agreed. "We have thought it over, and we want to become nuns."

"Nuns? I see," he said, nodding seriously, although I'm sure he must have been hiding a big grin. He placed his hands on our heads and gave us a special blessing: "God, bless these dear children, keep them safe, and watch over them all their days." Then he looked at us and said, "Now, you two go home. Come back to see me after your 18th birthdays, and if you still want to be nuns then, we'll talk."

WHILE MY PARENTS WERE ARDENT CATHOLICS, they were Christians in the broadest sense of the word. They believed in the Golden Rule and taught us to treat our neighbors with kindness and respect. They felt strongly connected to their village and dedicated themselves to creating a prosperous, harmonious community. Dad spent many weekends doing volunteer work, such as building a nondenominational chapel and paying for most of the construction costs out of his own pocket. He also set up a scholarship fund for poorer kids by establishing one of Rwanda's few coffee cooperatives, allowing a dozen coffee growers to plant on his land rent free if they promised to donate a little of their profits to the fund. The program was so successful that he was able to use some of the money to build a community center, a soccer field for teens, and a new roof for the school.

Mom was also known for her many good works. She could never turn away anyone in need, so we often had another family living with us because they'd fallen on hard times and needed a place to stay until they got back on their feet.

After finishing work, my mother often volunteered her time to tutor students, and she was forever buying material to sew new uniforms for local schoolgirls. And once I overheard her talking to a neighbor who was distraught because she couldn't afford to buy her daughter a wedding dress.

"Rose, what kind of mother am I to send my own daughter to her new life in old clothes?" the woman asked. "If only we had a goat to sell, I could dress her in the way she should be dressed on her wedding day."

My mother told her not to worry-if she had faith in God, He would provide. The next day I saw Mom counting out the money she'd saved from her monthly teacher's salary. Then she walked to the village, coming home with her arms full of brightly colored fabrics. She sat up all night sewing dresses for the woman's daughter and all the bridesmaids.

Mom and Dad treated the village as our extended family, and the villagers often treated them like surrogate parents. For example, Dad had a reputation across the region as an educated, enlightened, and fair-minded man. Consequently, people traveled for miles seeking his counsel on family problems, money woes, and business ventures. He was often called upon to settle local squabbles and discipline unruly children.

A crisis in the village was usually followed by a knock on our door and this plea: "Leonard! Can you help us out? We need your advice. What should we do, Leonard?"

Dad invited people into the house at all hours and would discuss their problems until they found a solution. He was a good diplomat and always made people feel as if they'd resolved their own difficulties.

My mother was also sought out for her advice, especially by women having difficulties with their husbands. Over the years, so many of our neighbors had once been Mother's students that most villagers just called her Teacher.

But while they were certainly dedicated to our village, my parents were devoted to their kids, spending as much time with us as possible.

Once in a while, when he worked late and went for beers with his friends afterward, Dad got home well after we'd already gone to bed. "Where are my little ones? Where are my darling children?" he'd ask, a little tipsy but full of affection.

Mother would scold him: "They're sleeping, Leonard, as they should be. If you want to see them, you should come home earlier."

"Well, I can't eat dinner alone," he'd say, and gently get us all out of bed. We'd sit around the table in our pajamas while he ate dinner and told us about his day. We loved every minute of it.

After he finished eating, Dad would make us all kneel down in the living room and recite our evening prayers.

"They've already said their prayers, Leonard. They have school tomorrow!"

"Well, Rose, I have to work tomorrow. And you can never say too many prayers. Right, Immaculee?"

"Yes, Daddy," I'd answer shyly. I idolized my dad and was delighted that he'd ask me such an important question.

Those were magical moments-when my father's stern facade was lifted, his love for us was easy to see.

THERE WERE FOUR KIDS IN THE FAMILY: myself and my three brothers. The eldest was Aimable Ntukanyagwe, who was born in 1965, a year after my parents were married. Even as a child, Aimable was the most serious member of the family. He was so quiet and introspective that we joked he was the family priest. Mom doted on him because he was her firstborn and her favorite, but Aimable was humble, shy, and embarrassed by the extra attention she paid him. He was also sweet-natured and detested violence. When the other boys roughhoused or fought with each other, he would step between them and make the peace.

When Dad was away, Aimable took his place, making sure that we finished our homework, said our evening prayers, and got to bed on time. Then he would stay up late, ensuring that the doors were locked and the house was secure for the night. He seemed so much older than his years, but he was a loving brother to me, never failing to ask about my day, how my studies were going, and if my friends were treating me well. There was a five-year age difference between Aimable and me, which, as kids, made it difficult to get to know each other.

I was only seven when my brother went off to boarding school, and after that, we saw each other only on holidays and special get-togethers. Nevertheless, I developed a terrible stomachache the day he left. Although his school was in a nearby town, as far as I was concerned, my brother was moving to the moon. It was the first time I felt the physical pain of losing someone you love. When my father sat us kids down a few days later to write letters to Aimable, I could think of only two things to say. In large, looping letters, I wrote:

Dear Aimable, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I miss you, I love you, I love you, I love you ... and I miss you!!!!! Love, Immaculee P.S. I miss you!

My father laughed when he read the letter. "You didn't mention anything about visiting Grandma's house, or how your other brothers are doing, Immaculee. Try writing again with a little more news and a few less 'I love yous' and 'I miss yous.'"

"But that's how I feel, Daddy."

I couldn't understand why he wanted me to love my brother less-and Dad never tired of teasing me about that letter.

Two years after Aimable was born, my other big brother came into the world. His name was Damascene Jean Muhirwa, and he was brilliant, mischievous, funny, generous, unbelievably kind, and irresistibly likable. He made me laugh every day, and he always knew how to stop my tears. Damascene ... to this day I can't say his name without smiling ... or crying. He was three years my senior, but I felt as though he were my twin. He was my closest friend; he was my soul mate.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from LEFT TO TELL by Immaculee Ilibagiza Steve Erwin Copyright © 2006 by Immaculee Ilibagiza. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 64 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2008

    Faith and Prejudice

    In 1994, a 22 year old Rwandan native was home from college to enjoy Easter with her family in Mataba. She and her family are devout Catholics and members of a local tribe known as Tutsis. However, the joys of a long awaited visit to home were cut short when the President of Rwanda, born Hutu, was murdered near the capital city of Kigali. Accusations flew as the entire Tutsi population was blamed and punished for the offense. Genocide, prejudice, and racism became preeminent ways of life for the people of Rwanda as the Tutsi civilians were literally hacked into submission by the Hutu extremists. Left to Tell is a first-hand account of Immaculee Ilibagiza who is one of the few survivors of the Rwandan genocide. From news of sadistic torture and murder surrounding her loved ones to her family to realizing an innate connection with an ever-loving God, Left to Tell teaches the reader two very important lessons. Firstly, Ilibagiza¿s description of theatrocities committed towards her people prove how misused governmental influence can drive people of the gentlest nature to hatred and crime. Secondly, her experience with prayer and faith in God proves that we are never alone and that even in the darkest of times you will always have hope. These two elements are perfectly intwined one with another to ultimately prove that unconditional forgiveness can overcome pain and anguish. Through the experiences of this beautiful young women who survived the Rwandan genocide we can learn imperative truths and lessons about life and overcoming adversity.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Every honest person admits that they want to discover God amidst

    Every honest person admits that they want to discover God amidst the good and the bad of life. We all ask the questions that Ilibagiza addresses. "Where is God?" "How do I forgive evil?" Few are forced to probe such questions in the midst of such soul-numbing devastation. Humanity is still plagued by groups of people who feel determined to wipe out other groups of people. The spiritual disease is the same, only the names and labels change. Read Left to Tell and you will learn that the only way to go is Love, and the only thing to offer is forgiveness. You will also learn that no matter what travesty hits you, no matter your age or situation in life, through faith in God's power, you can craft the life He intended for you. Left to Tell is indeed a beautiful book that is highly recommended. Many authors try to solve the mystery of suffering by examining it purely through a theological grid. Others attempt to understand evil only through the framework of personal experience. Immaculee Ilibagiza combines both. Her devout faith in a good God along with her hell-on-earth, paradise-in-her-soul approach makes "Left to Tell" a unique and rewarding book.   

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2008

    Family and Forgiveness

    A tragedy worth reading. A character is brought through the terror of genocide. She experiences the pain and suffering of a lifetime, and all she has left in her heart is forgiveness. She struggles against death and fear to find that faith is truly stronger than the culprits. Inside a small bathroom with seven other women, she discovers the strength in faith to God. Hunted by weapon-wielding animals, she feels compelled to survive and tell her story to the rest of the world. This book offers inspiration to a cause, an absorbing atmosphere, and the enlightening journey of Immaculee Ilibagiza. She is torn from her family with their violent deaths, and two lasting themes are family and forgiveness. After reading this book, I was compelled by her willingness to forgive and how strongly she felt for her family. The terrors she endured and the pains she withstood formed a kind of realism that kept me coming back. She detailed her thoughts, her actions, why she did what she did with a unique style. This brought out reactions that both enthralled and appalled me. In some instances, the writing was not what it could be. She did well describing her environment, but her dialogue seemed less realistic. Overall, this book was phenomenal. It opened my eyes to the real world, and I hope that any who reads this book comes out with a similar reaction.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    Must read!

    Terrifying, amazing and touching story. Must read for everyone. Opened my eyes to the Rwanda situation. Want my teen and adult children to read it. Inspirational and encourages an attitude of gratitude and forgiveness! Immaculee Ilibagiza was left to tell and we need hear what she has to say!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    Great read

    It amazes me how people to this day can think and do these horrible things to each other. I look forward to reading her other books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2008

    Humbling and Inspiring Story, Inadequate Writing

    "Left To Tell" is a firsthand account of the Rwandan genocide as told by the Tutsi Immaculee Ilibagiza. In this brutal yet uplifting story, Ilibagiza relays to the reader her experiences during the Rwandan Genocide, describing the evil, lurid decimation of Rwandan Tutsis by extremist Hutu militants and government. For three months, Ilibagiza found herself forced to live in a minuscule bathroom with six other Tutsi women, surrounded by death and bloodthirstiness. As the Genocide raged around her, annihilating hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and Hutus alike and igniting international wrath, Ilibagiza found solace with God, nourishing her faith and love for God incessantly. This is truly an inspiring account, and enlightening in many ways, not all of them cheerful.<BR/> Love of family and of God is the major theme in this book.These themes make up the backbone of Ilibagiza's narrative. I very much liked and enjoyed the way Ilibagiza expressed her love and faith in God; I judged it to be explicitly humble and inspirational. I also liked the fact that Ilibagiza felt brave enough to retell her story to the world; it must have been extremely difficult to do so.<BR/> Though "Left To Tell" is extremely uplifting and inspirational, it is inadequately written; I had to force myself more than once to continue to read it. The writing style was wandering and often erratic; This may be because Ilibagiza wrote the book in English rather than her native language and she felt uncomfortable writing the book.<BR/> Though I respect the author's experience and even admire her strength, I generally would not recommend reading "Left to Tell" in one's free time; reader, there are much better books to read of similar proportions, such as "The Diary of Anne Frank". However, if you happened to be forced/obliged to read a non-fiction book for your 10th grade English Honors class as I was, I would recommend this book, solely because there are many topics within the novel that make good essay material, such as a discussion on survival in the midst of the Rwandan Genocide, and various other analyses. I would recommend the "Diary of Anne Frank" as an alternative narrative of similar inspiration and love. If I were a professional critic I would give this book a C minus or a 2.5 out of 5.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2008

    Amazing story

    This book is amazing. It focuses on the Rwandan genocide and the story of one girl and her family. It is extremely emotional, but it really opens your eyes. Be prepared to cry.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    If you can stomach it- a must read.

    This book was extremely eye opening, as main stream media did not report anything to the liking. Graphic detail- to the point that it seems unreal. This book is definitely a testimony to faith.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2008

    a must read

    I buy a lot of books. Most of them I actually get around to reading but every once in a while one comes along that is so compelling I literally cannot put it down. I heard the author of this book on the radio this past Saturday morning while driving through the rain and re-routed myself to go by a Barnes and Noble and buy it. I had to go to two stores but it was worth it. I went home and opened the book Saturday afternoon¿.and got up again when I got to the last page. The next day I gave it to a friend after Church. Though she doesn¿t express as much interest in reading as I usually do, she texted me about 6 pm on Sunday saying she had only 60 pages left and that her daughter had asked about it noticing how engaged mom had been in the book. Her daughter got home from work late Sunday and picked up the book and also did not put it down until early morning on Monday. Now they have sent it to the Air Force Academy to another daughter. I have no doubt she will also open it and have difficulty putting it down. If you told me you could only read one book this year I would tell you to read this one. It is a true story about someone in a horrifying situation and how she survived. It is a story about faith and eventually unimaginable forgiveness. It is a story about what happens when good people do nothing, when a whole country says ¿not our business¿. I hope you get a chance to read it. I promise you will be moved. Scott

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2008

    Discovering Power

    The title of Left to Tell articulates that Immaculée ¿Discovered God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust¿. However, as I read the work, I had the impression that she had already discovered God before the genocide started. While trapped in a claustrophobic bathroom with other Tutsi women, and feeling as if the last seconds of their lives were inevitably creeping towards them, Immaculée immediately begins to pray. Trying to block out negative and provoking thoughts, she reflects on her favorite Bible passages. Hearing chants of murderous voices, she pleads with God to protect them as he did Daniel in the lion¿s den. This practice is not very common to those who haven¿t already discovered God. From personal experience, it is hard to practice religion unless you truly believe in it, otherwise your purpose is meaningless and your faith can leave you stranded while facing your darkest hours. In my opinion, it is not so much that Immaculée discovered God, in that she discovered his divine power. Through sincere prayer and faith, God enabled her to remove herself from the physical and emotional turmoil that surrounded that bathroom. While amid devilish killers that chanted her name, Immaculée¿s story reveals how God became her friend and companion, feeding her the will to survive. This work is an incredible account of how a bright young woman was able to conquer her circumstances because she knew God. I highly recommend this outstanding work as it helps me to cherish the power in loving God.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2008

    An amazing survior story

    Although a bathroom may seem an odd place to increase one¿s faith, Ilibagiza points to God and His mercy in every page of her book. While sitting on the bathroom floor, she prays and ponders on deep religious themes such as trust, sacrifice, and forgiving others. She does not seek to teach doctrine to the reader, but is wonderful at showing the application of these themes through her experiences. She recognizes God¿s hand in practically every situation which gives a religious momentum to her words any person of faith will be deeply touched and allowed to consider his or her own belief and trust in God. Left to Tell is definitely different than other suspenseful books because Ilibagiza doesn¿t try to put the reader on the edge of his or her seat: it is clear from the beginning that she is a survivor. This serves as a kind of double-edged sword. On the one hand, knowing that she survives the massacre allows the reader to focus more on the characters she describes, what is to be learned in each situation, and the transformation of Immacluée herself. However, on the other hand, this method may disappoint a reader who is expecting a resounding climax and short conclusion. Even so, what Ilibagiza may lack in suspense, she makes up for with excellent character and scene description. She uses equally simple language to describe both her years at college and her near-death experiences in the bathroom. This adds a concern and suspense of its own for the reader and permits him or her to see the religious connections more clearly. Also, by her superb description of characters, such as her father, mother, and brothers, she allows the reader to see the genocide on a more personal level. This again points the reader back to her transformation and what faith and forgiveness come to mean in her life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

    This book was such an inspiration!! Immaculee is a true example of a Catholic-Christian. I will continue to pray for her, her family, those effected by the genocide, and all the unknown suffering that continues in our world... I recommend this book to EVERYONE especially those weak in faith.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2007

    good good good book

    This is one of the best book that I ever read. It is a little gorey and very sad but, amazingly good! (if that's a word.) I love this book and I recommend it for ages 12 and up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2013

    ¿¿¿¿The book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Ho

    ¿¿¿¿The book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust written by Immaculee Ilibagiza is a spiritual book about learning forgiveness and how to trust and discover God at the hardest times of your life. This author writes about her heartbreaking journey during the Rwandan genocide and how she lost everything and yet somehow found her faith and strength to forgive those who hurt her and her family through God. This was an amazing and heart breaking story that everyone needs to read regardless of where they are at in their own life.
    Throughout her journey she has to face subtle discrimination that gets worse the older and older she gets, especially when it comes to school. She over comes this but then the genocide starts and during it she has to come to terms of the deaths of her family, friends, and the loss of her home and everything she owns. Despite all this Immaculee finds God’s grace in the bathroom with seven other women. While dealing with her own personal struggles she also goes out of her way to help others towards the end of the genocide. The absolute most touching part of the book is when she comes face to face with one of the men who had killed her family and even though she is given the opportunity to get revenge she just looks at him and tells him she forgives him.
    This can be a very tough read when it comes to the actual killing and torture of that who were involved in the genocide of 1994, but is more than worth it when it comes to learning life lessons about forgiveness, strength, faith, and the grace of the Lord.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2013

    The book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holoca

    The book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust written by Immaculee Ilibagiza is a spiritual book about learning forgiveness and how to trust and discover God at the hardest times of your life. This author writes about her heartbreaking journey during the Rwandan genocide and how she lost everything and yet somehow found her faith and strength to forgive those who hurt her and her family through God. This was an amazing and heart breaking story that everyone needs to read regardless of where they are at in their own life.
    Throughout her journey she has to face subtle discrimination that gets worse the older and older she gets, especially when it comes to school. She over comes this but then the genocide starts and during it she has to come to terms of the deaths of her family, friends, and the loss of her home and everything she owns. Despite all this Immaculee finds God’s grace in the bathroom with seven other women. While dealing with her own personal struggles she also goes out of her way to help others towards the end of the genocide. The absolute most touching part of the book is when she comes face to face with one of the men who had killed her family and even though she is given the opportunity to get revenge she just looks at him and tells him she forgives him.
    This can be a very tough read when it comes to the actual killing and torture of that who were involved in the genocide of 1994, but is more than worth it when it comes to learning life lessons about forgiveness, strength, faith, and the grace of the Lord.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza is educational and inspirat

    Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza is educational and inspirational. Before reading her story I had little knowledge of the severity of the Rwandan genocide and the history behind why it happened. Immaculee’s story is a story of hope and forgiveness. Something that really stuck out to me that I hadn’t ever thought of before is that she had a comfortable normal life before the genocide. She was attending a University, she had a home with a family, and she loved her country and she felt like she belonged. I feel like occasionally people view the struggles the Rwandan people went through as less difficult based on the assumption that the people never had anything to begin with, but in Left to Tell Immaculee shows how that is absolutely not true. She went from having everything to having nothing—instantly. 
    As I read Immaculee’s story my testimony of the Savior and His atonement grew. Her journey of forgiveness is incredible. As I read about how the Tutsi’s were being treated by the Hutu’s I thought back to a blog post I had written about Rwandan refugees and I wondered if those refugees I had written about were Tutsi or Hutu. For a second I hoped that they were Tutsi because I didn’t want to be writing about Hutu’s as being dignified and deserving of sympathy after all they had done to the Tutsi people. But, as I continued reading her story I realized I was totally wrong. If she could forgive them after they had slaughtered her family, then I could too. And not only could I forgive the Hutu killers, but I could look inside myself and find forgiveness for the people in my life I had been harboring hard feelings against.
    Along with the amazing message of forgiveness and the ability and obligation each one of us has to strive towards it, Immaculee includes an uplifting and motivational message about the power of positive thinking and the human mind. She shows through her personal experiences that no matter what, if you whole-heartedly believe something is possible, have a deep desire for it, and call upon God for help you will, without a doubt, receive it. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2008

    A Poignant Reminder

    When a large-scale mass genocide began in 1994, Immaculee Ilibagiza¿s life was seemingly normal. She transitioned from a confident student at the University concerned with her studies and social life, to a terrified victim hiding in a small bathroom, concerned for her life. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust is the story of her survival¿mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But it is more than a survival story. It is a story that evokes the reader to deep reflection on the tragedy of genocide and the seemingly perpetual cycle of hatred. It is a journey of love and forgiveness and faith. And above all, Ilibagiza¿s story is a breath-taking illustration of the double-sided nature of humanity. Ilibagiza¿s conversational tone effectively draws the reader in to see the genocide through her frightened eyes. Once there, Ilibagiza takes the reader by the arm and shows them her world as it is flipped upside down by the killer Hutus. From the happy days of her childhood, to her experience as a student at the University, to her deep love for her charming family, the reader is quick to relate to Ilibagiza. However, it is this very tie that will later bring the reader to weep as he watches Ilibagiza¿s ¿normal¿ life make a turn for the worst. Her horrifying experience brings the Rwandan holocaust to a personal level and shows the reader the true injustice of racial prejudice. In a world where ¿holocaust,¿ ¿hatred,¿ ¿prejudice¿ and ¿ethnic cleansing¿ have become ordinary terms for everyday events, Ilibagiza¿s story must be shared. Stories like hers remind us all that genocide is not and cannot ever be considered normal, and that¿for the sake of the individual¿something must be done.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2008

    Wow - Never read anything like it!

    Immaculée Ilibagiza¿s powerful and inspiring autobiographical story, Left to Tell, gave me chills of both horror and amazement, not just at the cruelty of the Interahamwe and the Hutus, but at the miraculous standpoint that Immaculée takes both internally and externally towards the entire situation. She was faced with the extermination of almost her entire family, and the destruction of her entire world as she knew it, yet she came out of it with love and forgiveness in her heart for the people who so ruthlessly killed so many of her kin. Immaculée opens her story with a description of the ¿paradise¿ that she grew up in, along the boarder of Rwanda and Zaire, where racism and tribes were unknown to her until she entered school. She describes each of her family members so vividly that you feel you have known them for years, and as such you become attached to them. She then moves on to describe the history of hatred between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes, and the subsequent happenings which led up to the massacre of thousands of Tutsis in 1994. Her descriptions of the fear and hatred on both sides of the conflict are not sugar-coated or minimized in any way, nor are the descriptions of the actual violence and killings of the genocide. She makes you feel as though you were actually there, witnessing this terrible time in the world¿s history. It¿s through these heart-pounding, vivid accounts that we really feel and see what she saw and experienced. In the final part of her novel, Immaculée describes the aftermath of the genocide, not just for her, but for her entire country. She tells how she managed to get back on her feet, with virtually no kin left, and none close enough to help her out. She also lets us sit inside her head as she retells how she puzzled out how to best deal with what has happened to her. Throughout her experience, she calls on God to help her in various ways, whether it¿s to keep the Interahamwe from finding her or to help her achieve a peace of mind so she can live her life. The ending struggle of the novel is Immaculée¿s inward search and heaven-ward call to find the strength to forgive the very people who destroyed her life. Throughout this entire novel, I found myself inspired by Immaculée¿s courage and faith, but I was also confounded by that same faith in a higher power. I can¿t see myself, in her same position, even coming close to forgiving the monsters who murdered my family. I would never be able to ¿forgive and forget¿, and for that I admire her. She has found a peaceful place to rest her mind and heart, and has started anew with a family of her own. I really loved this novel, and I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they have it rough, or who really does and needs help to find that peace for themselves

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2008

    Outstanding

    This is by far one of the most touching books I've ever read. Immaculee is such a strong woman. Some of the things she went through make me cringe when thinking about them. I can't even begin to imagine the pain she felt. After reading this book I look up to Immaculee and respect her so much. I wish her and her family well. Many things in this book bothered me. The way people were treated makes me sick. In the end though, I cried. I cried for Immaculee and her family. I cried for all the Rwandan sufferes. Most of all I cried because no one jumped in to stop this genocide until it was completed and millions were left dead.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    A reviewer

    This was one of the best books Ive ever red and im only 16. Its helping me become stronger with my relationship with god. I also think god meant for me to meet the wonderful author. She greeted me with a hug and an auotgraph. With that I am stronger.. so please read this book!

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